2 SEPTEMBER 1882, Page 14


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—May I be allowed to contribute, in illustration of the mys- terious brain or "will "-power supposed to exist, a story which appears to me more remarkable than any of the narratives that have yet appeared in your columns. A friend of mine told me that it was related. to him many years ago, by my mother—the " Ann Taylor," of " Original Poems," " Hymns of Infant Minds," &c.—and that she mentioned the name of the family concerned ; but this, unfortunately, ho had forgotten. Certain circum- stances lead me to believe that the family referred to was that of the Watkinsons, spoken of in the "Autobiography, &c., of Mrs. Gilbert," Vol. L, p. 26, as resident in her childhood-1786 to 1794—at Lavenham, in Suffolk. The story is as follows :- A son of this family had gone to America. One summer Sunday afternoon, they were attending service, and occupying a large, square pew near the pulpit, in what I take to have been a meeting-house. It was hot, the door of the small building was wide open, and one of the party, who sat looking down the aisle, could see out into the meeting-house yard, which was shaded by tall trees. Suddenly, to his intense surprise, he saw the absent brother approaching through these trees, enter at the chapel-door, walk up the aisle, come to the very door of the pew itself, and lay his hand upon it, as if to take his seat among them. At this moment others of the family, sitting so that he was only then within their sight, saw him also, but at that same moment ho vanished.

This strange occurrence naturally raised std forebodings, but in course of time a letter arrived from the subject of them of later date than that of the vision, and it appeared that he was still alive and well. He was then written to, and asked if any- thing peculiar had happened to him on that particular Sunday P He replied that it was odd he should remember anything about a Sunday then so long passed, but that certainly something peculiar had happened to him that day. He had come in, over- powered with heat, and had thrown himself upon his bed, had fallen into a sound sleep, and bad a strange dream. He found himself among the trees before the country chapel ; service was going on; be saw them all, the door being open, sitting in their pew; he walked up the aisle, he put his hand. on the pew door to open it, when he suddenly, and to his great chagrin, awoke.

I am bound to say that, so far as I know, my mother's family —what remains of them—do not remember her speaking of this strange incident ; but my friend has a clear memory for such things, and is certain of her having done so. It would be interest- ing, however, to know whether such a story is known to any one else. If authentic, the question arises,—Can sleep release the soul like death P—I am, Sir, &o.,